How to Create Secret TLS in Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source tool that is utilized to execute and manage the containerized application inside the cluster. It performs various tasks to control, run, and secure the application’s credentials through secret and ingress.

Ingress is used to manage application incoming traffic and also for SSL termination. In contrast, secrets are used to store confidential information and TLS certificates for application.

This post will illustrate:

What are the Kubernetes Secrets?

The Secrets are one of the Kubernetes resources, used to store confidential information such as user login credentials, keys, certificates, or tokens. The secrets can be created individually and connected to pods. It prevents the developer from providing confidential data in code and also provides an extra layer of security. Different kinds of secrets can be created and used. The most commonly used secrets are:

Generic Secret: The generic secrets are utilized to store basic information such as passwords, tokens, API keys, OAuth keys, and so on.

TLS Secret: TLS secrets are used to store private keys and certificates that are signed by the CA. To ensure the security of applications running inside Kubernetes and for securing communication within the cluster, the user usually needs to create and embed TLS secrets to the pod.

Docker Registry: It is used to store the docker registry credential to easily pull the images from the registry.

Prerequisite: Generate Private Key and Certificate

To create the certificate and private key for security improvement, utilize OpenSSL that creates the CSR (certificate signing request) and private key. Then, use CSR to generate the self-signed or CA certificates.

To utilize the OpenSSL commands on Windows, users are required to install Git. For this purpose, follow our linked “Install git on Windows” article.

After installing git, follow the below instructions to generate a private key and signed certificate.

Step 1: Launch Git Bash Terminal

Make a search for “Git Bash” in the Start menu and launch the terminal:

To check the current directory use the “pwd” command:


Currently, we are working in the %USERPROFILE% directory:

Step 2: Create New Directory

Create a new directory to save the certificates and private key:

mkdir cert

Navigate to the newly created directory using the “cd” command:

cd cert

Step 3: Generate Private Key

Now, generate the private key through the given command. Here, the generated private key will be saved in “mycert.key”:

openssl genpkey -algorithm RSA -out mycert.key

Step 4: Generate CSR

To generate the CSR (certificate service request) to get a signed certificate, use the given command:

openssl req -new -key mycert.key -out mycert.csr

Step 5: Generate Certificate

Lastly, using the generated private key and CSR, create a certificate and save it in the “mycert.crt” file. For this purpose, execute the below command:

openssl x509 -req -in mycert.csr -signkey mycert.key -out mycert.crt -days 365

After generating the TLS certificates, the user can create the secret TLS by following the below section.

How to Create Secret TLS in Kubernetes?

To ensure the application security and secure communication within and outside the Kubernetes cluster, the TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates are essential that are used in data encrypting. The Kubernetes secret allows us to embed the TLS certificate with running pods through secret TLS. To create a secret TLS in Kubernetes, go through the following instructions.

Step 1: Start Minikube Cluster

To start the minikube cluster, first, launch the Windows PowerShell as administrator. After that, create and run the cluster using the “minikube start” command:

minikube start

Step 2: Get Nodes

Access the Kubernetes node to check if the cluster is started or not:

minikube get nodes

Step 3: Create Secret TLS

Create the TLS secret in Kubernetes using “kubectl create secret <secret-type> <secret-name> –cert=<path-to-tls certificate> –key=<path-to-private-key>” command. Here, the secret type can be “generic”, “tls”, or “docker-registry”. To create a TLS secret, we have set the secret type as “tls”:

kubectl create secret tls demo-secret --cert=C:\Users\Dell\cert\mycert.crt --key=C:\Users\Dell\cert\mycert.key

Step 4: Get Secrets

For confirmation, list down the Kubernetes secret using the given command:

kubectl get secret

Here, you can see we have effectively created a “demo-secret” that contains “2” data values:

Step 5: Describe Secret

To view how data are viewed or stored in secret, describe the secret using the “kubectl describe secret <secret-name>” command:

kubectl describe secret demo-secret

You can see values are stored in bytes and cannot be directly viewed unlike Kubernetes ConfigMaps:

How to Create a Secret TLS Through Yaml File?

To create a secret TLS through a yaml file, first, create a “secret.yml” file, add the tls base64 encoded certificate in the “tls.crt” key, and add the base64 encoded key in the “tls.key”.

For demonstration, follow the listed steps.

Step 1: Create Yaml File

Create a file named “secret.yml” and paste the given code:

apiVersion: v1


: "base64 encoded cert"

: "base64 encoded key"

: Secret


: mytls-secret

: default

: kubernetes.io/tls

In the above snippet, replace the “tls.crt” and “tls.key” key values with your original certificate and key values:

Step 2: Create a Secret

Now, apply the secret yaml file through the “kubectl apply -f <path-to-secret.yml>” command:

kubectl apply -f secret.yml

The output shows that we have successfully created the “mytls-secret” using yaml file:

Note: View TLS Certificate and Private Key

To view the base64 encoded certificate and use it in the yaml file, run the “cat <path-to-certificate file> | base64” command in the git bash terminal:

cat mycert.crt | base64

In order to view the base64 encoded key, use “cat <path-to-key file> | base64” command:

cat mycert.key | base64

How to Embed Secret TLS With Kubernetes Pod?

After creating the secret TSL, the user can embed it with the Kubernetes pod. To do so, use the following instructions.

Step 1: Create Yaml File

Make a file named “pod.yml” file and paste the below snippet into the file:

apiVersion: v1

kind: Pod


name: demo-pod



- name: html-cont

image: rafia098/html-img:1.0


- secretRef:

name: demo-secret

In the above snippet:

  • kind” key specifies the Kubernetes resource that the user is creating.
  • name” key will set the pod name.
  • containers” key will store the container information.
  • name” key under the “containers” key will set the container name.
  • image” key will provide the application or container image to create and start the application inside the container.
  • envFrom” key will set the environment variable from other Kubernetes resources. Here, to embed the secret TLS in a pod, “secretRef” is used to provide a secret reference. To embed the above secret TLS, specify the name of the secret in the “name” key.

Step 2: Create or Upgrade the Pod

Next, open the folder where the “pod.yml” file is created:

cd C:\Users\Dell\Documents\Kubernetes\Secret

Apply the yaml file to create or reconfigure the pod using the “kubectl apply” command:

kubectl apply -f pod.yml

Step 3: Access Kubernetes Pods

For verification, list down the Kubernetes pods:

kubectl get pod

Here, you can see we have created the “demo-pod” successfully:

Step 4: Describe the Pod

To check if the pod has embedded the secret TLS or not, describe the pod using the below command:

kubectl describe pod demo-pod

The below output shows that we have successfully embedded the TLS secret with pod:

We have covered how to create secret TLS and embed it with the Kubernetes application running in the pod.


To create the secret TLS in Kubernetes, first, create the TLS signed certificate and private key. After that, start the Kubernetes cluster and run the “kubectl create secret <secret-type> <secret-name> –cert=<path-to-tls certificate> –key=<path-to-private-key>” command. Users can also create the secret TLS using yaml manifest. This post has illustrated how to create the secret TLS and how to embed the secret with a running application or pod.

About the author

Rafia Zafar

I am graduated in computer science. I am a junior technical author here and passionate about Programming and learning new technologies. I have worked in JAVA, HTML 5, CSS3, Bootstrap, and PHP.